Thursday, August 18, 2011

More on cages and due process

In response to my post Defendants, cages and due process, I received the following e-mail from Sabrina Carliss:
Paul, you had an Aug 9th article titled 'Defendants, Cages and Due Process' where you spoke about the process of placing defendants behind bars or reverse cages where they testify from another room. Since it seems you're adamantly against this practice, how would you propose to deal with future alleged victims of sexual assault deal with the trials? Seems like this practice is rather kind to those assaulted (if the alleged is truly guilty). Where did you find the info for the last paragraph? 
Well, Ms. Carliss, my solution is quite simple - the complaining witness takes a seat in the witness stand and answers questions on direct from the prosecutor and on cross from the defense attorney. The Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant the right to confront the witnesses against him and I believe that the right to confront is severely diluted when a witness is allowed to testify from another room.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence. -- Sixth Amendment
My idea may sound harsh but my job is to defend the Constitution. The Bill of Rights doesn't make exceptions (and neither should we) for different crimes. When a person goes on trial, the state is looking to take away that person's life, liberty or property. If we're going to allow the state to do that then we damn well better guarantee that the defendant's rights are protected and that he be afforded all of his rights under due process of law.

By allowing a witness to testify on camera from another room we are telling the jury that the defendant is a bad person. We are telling the jury that it's okay to ignore the presumption of innocence. We are telling the jury it's okay to ignore the Bill of Rights.

Those who seek to tear down our constitutional protections like to twist the question around and ask what we would want if it was our child on the stand. The real question, however, is what would you want if you were the one on trial?


Barry said...

Yes, we should always have a right to confront our accusers. If we lose that right - which one is next?

Houston DWI Attorney Paul B. Kennedy, said...

Thanks for the comment, Barry.

It's so easy for folks to get caught up with emotion and sympathy for the alleged victim. What they forget is that these "technicalities" are our Constitutional rights.